It’s a common misconception that one can plant all bulbs anytime. That is not true, as some bulbs still need to be planted in the fall and winter when temperatures are cool. In California, this would mean planting from October to March. This article will cover when and how and what bulbs to plant in Northern California.
When to Plant Bulbs in Northern California
If you want your flowers to live through an entire summer without stress or watering, you can plant them from January-April. It is mostly best to plant in May if you have more water restrictions on your flower bed and plants.
From June to September, planting during these months will still allow them to grow during their dormancy period, but they will not need as much water as they would during their active season year-round.
The best time for Northern California natives to plant bulbs is in April. That will allow the ground to warm up quicker and for the plant to come up with flowers by their typical May bloom season.
The most important thing about planting bulbs is not planting them too late in the season. Most bulbs need a cold period that lasts from 6-12 weeks to develop and grow flowers properly. If you wait too long after this dormancy period, they will not bloom correctly or at all.
Steps for Planting Bulbs
Planting bulbs in northern California is a simple process.
Here is what you need:
- Potting soil
- Bulbs (daffodils, tulips, or hyacinths)
- Timer for lights or two stakes
- Watering can(s)
You can get started with some of these great tips for planting bulbs in Northern California.
1. Sunlight and Temperature
First, find a sunny spot for your bulb garden or ensure the temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunlight is vital for bulb growth, so you need to have a sunny area that gets enough sun to keep your bulbs healthy (about 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight). However, if you have a shady spot that does not get much sun, you can look for ways of directing some light to your bulb garden.
2. Picking the Right Spot
Next, find the best spot in the bed of your yard for planting bulbs. That can be in lighter soil where you do not have many plants or flowers growing in it and where rain garden drainage will work well. It can also be deeper soil with no other plants growing under it, as this area will drain well.
3. Dig the Hole (How Deep Matters)
Once you have your planting spot, take the time to dig a hole about twice as deep as the bulb you are planting. A good rule of thumb is that the bulb needs to be planted at least one and a half times deeper than it is long and at least one and a half times wider than it is long. Digging in straight lines or grids also helps with drainage.
4. Plant the Bulb
Once you have your hole dug, use your hand to push an edge of the soil down into the hole, so there is no bare soil showing around the bulb. Also, try not to embed rocks or sticks in the ground to drain well.
Once you have your hole dug and lined with the bag, fill it with soil just deep enough for your bulbs. Water the area well, and then cover it up (make sure you water the top of the bag so that your bulbs do not sit in water.)
Then take your bulbs out of their containers or pots and set them into their new beds of soil. Remember to tuck handfuls of soil around the stems of your bulbs so that, when you water them, it does not go down to the bottom of the stems, where they could drown.
If your bulbs are growing roots from their bulbs (at least two sets), then plant them a bit deeper as well. Remember to enrich your soil with a natural fertilizer, like bone or blood meal, after the first bulbs have started to sprout.
What Are The Best Bulbs For Northern California?
Tulips are among the most popular bulbs due to their versatility and long blooming period (typically from April-June). They thrive in areas that receive six hours or more of direct sunlight each day. It is recommended to plant tulips from 10 inches-12 inches apart.
Daffodils are dainty and delicate bulbs that thrive in cooler, moist climates like northern California. Plant daffodils from one to two feet apart with at least 12 inches of space between each bulb.
These are colorful flowers that thrive during the spring and summer months. To encourage blooming, keep hyacinth bulbs in a location with six hours of sun each day. When placed 12 inches apart, you will get 2-3 blooms per bulb.
Best Time To Plant Bulbs in Northern California: Conclusion
Northern California is one of the world’s best parts to plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. You can grow such plants in the late fall or early winter. These bulbs need to be planted at least six inches deep, but preferably eight inches deep.
You need to regularly water them once they grow enough leaves to sustain them over the summer months when it is dryer than usual. In some parts of northern California, it rains more than others, so these types of bulbs are perfect.
Related Article: How Long Do Tulip Bulbs Last?